Heidegger's Season-High 26 Leads Gauchos Past CSUN, 70-64

Max Heidegger (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Max Heidegger (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Max Heidegger scored a season-high 26 points and Cal State Northridge made just 1-for-21 from three-point range as UC Santa Barbara came from behind for a 70-64 win on Wednesday night.

The Gauchos (17-5 overall, 6-2 Big West) trailed the Matadors (10-14, 4-4) 11-0 3:19 into the game with freshman Lamine Diane scoring nine of his game-high 28 points during the run. A driving layup by Devearl Ramsey with 16:31 to play in the first half broke the spell. 

Still trailing 20-10, JaQuori McLaughlin made a long three-pointer to kick-start an 18-9 rally to end the first half and pull UCSB within 29-28 at halftime. 

CSUN pushed the lead to 35-32 before the Gauchos went on a 13-3 surge to claim a 49-38 lead with 9:50 remaining in the game. Heidegger made two of his season-high four three-point baskets during run. Freshman Amadou Sow, who finished with 16 points and nine boards, scored four during the stretch.

Heidegger, who struggled with his shot since returning to action after missing 11 games, continued to emerge. He scored 20 in UCSB's win at Hawai'i on Feb. 2 and he was even better Wednesday. 

"Coach P (Pasternack) and my teammates just kept telling me to keep shooting," said the junior guard. "I would get a little frustrated but my teammates always had confidence in me so I'm glad I've been able to contribute to some wins."

Despite falling behind by 11, the Matadors weren't done.

Terrell Gomez made his team's only three-pointer of the game to get the lead back to a single-digit at 49-41 with 9:35 to play. The teams continued to trade buckets over the next several minutes and when Heidegger made a hanging jumper, was fouled and made the free throw, Santa Barbara was back on top 58-49 at the 5:45 mark.

CSUN responded with a 7-0 run to close within 58-56 on a layup by Darius Brown II with 4:50 to play. A free throw by Heidegger and then two by Sow extended the advantage back to 61-56 with 3:32 on the clock, but a free throw line jumper by Brown made it a 61-58 game with 3:10 left. 

It was time for Heidegger to strike again as he drilled a long three-pointer with 2:39 to play, giving the Gauchos a 64-58 lead. 

"That was a really big shot," Pasternack said. "Max was so confident when he went up that you just sensed it was going to fall." 

A dunk by Ron Artest III made it a 64-60 game with 2:22 left, but after the teams traded turnovers, it was time for the Matadors to start sending UCSB to the free throw line. McLaughlin made two and then missed two, but Heidegger hit four in a row, the final two with 14 seconds left, to give his team a 70-62 edge. A rebound and basket at the buzzer by Rodney Henderson, Jr., made the final score 70-64. 

"This was an outstanding defensive effort for us," Pasternack said. "JaQuori (McLaughlin) did a great job on Gomez, and Jarriesse (Blackmon) and Amadou (Sow) did a good job on their best player." 

While Diane finished with 28 points, he made just four of his final nine shots from the field and Blackmon was the primary reason.

"Jarriesse is our junkyard dog," Pasternack said. "He is so unselfish. He doesn't need to get his shots, he just does whatever he has to do to help this team win." 

Blackmon finished with five points, five rebounds, two steals and a career-high four assists in his 26 minutes off the bench. Ar'Mond Davis had nine points and five rebounds, while Ramsey had six points, six rebounds and three assists. 

Gomez, who came into the game averaging more than 19 points per game, was held to 10 on 3-for-13 from the field and 1-for-8 from three-point range. 

UCSB made exactly 11-of-24 field goals in each half to finish at 22-of-48, 45.8%. The Gauchos also made 20-of-26 free throws, 76.9%, including 16-of-19, 84.2%, in the second half. CSUN shot 43.5% overall but in addition to making just 1-of-21 shots from three-point range, it also hit just 9-of-16 free throws, 56.3%. UCSB also won the rebound battle, 39-29. 

Santa Barbara has now won two consecutive games and will return home on Saturday, Feb. 9 to host UC Davis in a game that will tip-off at 9:00 p.m. The game will be carried by ESPNU.